11 business reasons to try Twitter

Twitter isn’t for everyone. But maybe it’s for you, and you just don’t know it yet.

Twitter isn't for everyone, but it may be for you

Twitter inspires love and hate

It may be hard to see what value you can get from 140 characters competing in a sea of incomprehensible tweets such as “RT @SuperBlogDude, yo!” and yawners like “I’m at Denny’s.” I was just as skeptical, not that long ago.

If you’re looking for a shortcut to sales, Twitter isn’t it (though there are exceptions). But I now swear by it.

Mirroring my own experience, here’s why you may want to keep your mind open to Twitter.

1. It’s a great platform for customer service. A couple of years ago, I was ambivalent about Twitter. Then I read a case study about a company few people knew about. Zappos, an online shoe seller, had racked up a billion dollars in annual sales. They had created a reputation – among people who buy lots of shoes – for service that surpassed even Nordstrom. Zappos’ main brand-building tool: Twitter. They used Twitter mainly for customer service. It helped them be so responsive and so transparent, they created a business case that will be studied for years.

The Zappos case proves there’s more to Twitter than you can tell from the 140-character entries.

2. It opens up an entire new world of information. I wanted to learn about newer marketing techniques. Twitter was like getting a college degree on an accelerated schedule. It helped me identify experts in the field, follow them, and get quick notification of their newest blog posts. I learned what they are talking about and doing, and where to turn for answers.

On Twitter, you can find fresh, leading-edge information, often from unusual yet authoritative sources.

3. Twitter tears down physical barriers to meeting people. In my old life as an ad agency creative, I met and worked with some impressive individuals. But it took years to build up my Rolodex. (You kids under 30, look that up.) With Twitter, I connected and interacted with leaders in digital/social and social marketing in a matter of weeks.

I now communicate regularly with smart folks on every continent. Ideas know no boundaries. Business opportunities know very few.

4. Meet people locally. An unexpected benefit, to me, is how many people I’ve connected with right here in my own town, Spokane. Pretty valuable to someone who hasn’t lived here all that long.

Combine Twitter with your in-person networking strategy. Locate people locally, engage them, and create strategic relationships.

5. Twitter gently encourages you to take positive business action. I’ve never been the world’s best self-starter, but Twitter has made me better. Twitter forces you to prove your worth. You’ll have to provide good content yourself – or you can organize and curate other people’s content. You learn to focus and strengthen your message, and how to interact effectively.

The fact that people are just one click away from you and your business encourages you to get your business in order. It shows you how you stack up against competition, locally and globally. There’s no hiding behind your Twitter handle.

6. Twitter helps you research almost anything. Twitter’s search function helps you learn about people, products, companies and more.

You don’t even need a Twitter account to us  Twitter Search. It’s a great resource. It’s especially useful for real-time trends and information. Monitor your competition, or your foreign counterparts.

7. Get quick, candid feedback. Be direct and ask your followers about anything. Or target specific users, whether they follow you or not.

I use Twitter to ask questions to people I want to emulate, do business with, who have specific expertise, or those I just plain admire. Amazingly, they usually answer.

8. Establish credibility and expertise. Respond to comments, especially on your specialty topics. Answer questions. Ask great questions in return. Start conversations. Expand your influence.

Twitter is great for conversation. It’s why they call it “social” media. The 140-character limit imposes discipline, and lets you drive traffic to your site.

9. Promote your promotions. You have a white paper, a video, a free software application, a contest, a great blog post, a limited-time low price? Tweet it. Add a Twitter sharing button to your online communications. See them go viral. If you develop the right community, and offer the right value, Twitter can drive traffic to your website or your storefront.

Twitter is a gateway drug to other social media. It’s a good source of traffic to my blog. And with a Twitter “share button” on my blog, the reverse is true as well.

10. Google likes Twitter. I just Googled my name. The third item comes from my Twitter account. And it’s current.

Twitter is a fast way to improve your search engine rank.

11. There’s no right and wrong way to use Twitter. Twitter is new. It’s simple. Once you’re handy with it – in days – you’ll think of ways to use it that are just right for your business. [Edit to add: Actually, there are some wrong ways to use Twitter, as with anything else. There’s poor etiquette and obnoxious behavior. But that’s another post altogether.]

People do business with people they know, like and trust. Twitter is a tool for letting people know, like and trust you. What you do with it is up to you.

Give twitter a chance to help your business. Even if it’s not your bag, you’ll learn if and where it belongs in your marketing plan.

What are your thoughts, questions, reservations, or personal experiences with Twitter?